In the middle of the street, Albert Gironès presents a fragile three-tube sculpture, staggering as if a light wisp of wind could pull it down at any time. It is impossible not to glance at it and feel slightly alienated from the urban reality. This is only one of more than 235 ephemeral sculptures he has published on his Instagram project @espontani.
Each assemblage displayed on the pavements all over Europe shows a quick purposeful design process. Beyond the creation of a still sculpture, Albert stages all-welcome situations. He keeps the poem open. The view of the majority of these pieces is to succumb to an anxiety of fragility. There is the violence of the unbalance, meant to fall, and the violence of the isolation. A pile of useless objects about to collapse, purposely left on the pavement, while pedestrians continue with their passing-by has a sense of tragedy.
This project finds itself peculiarly bound up with a state of estrangement concerning to the visual order of the city. The objects left on the street are considered as entities, beyond its role of tool. Shapes, colours, materials or textures define here each item, nothing more than its material nature, in order to create constructions with an autonomous meaning.
This artistic inclusion in the streets continues a somehow battle against galleries. The end of these spontaneous sculptures does not come to an item, in this case comes to an open free platform where everyone have access from their houses.
The instant when the picture is taken, both digital and physical plane are equal, to immediately divide. The art is traditionally intervened by the artist, and endured in the same condition in a controlled space such as galleries or museum. Here, the sculpture is abandoned to its fate, climate conditions or human interventions will change and bring it to an unknown state you can only imagine when seeing the picture on Instagram.
Photos by Fabrizio Colque
- Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you start to get interested in art?
I guess as almost everyone I started drawing compulsively during the first years of my life. This moment is very interesting because it can get longer in time and end up being Picasso, or it can be cut earlier for different reasons. I suppose that we are all potential Picassos. (Referring only to his artistic practice, of course!)
At the same time I started studying music. A lot of years. But the key point I would say that it was already in my adolescence, when I became overly interested in graffiti. With some friends from school we started to draw colorfoul pointy shapes. We did not even understand that it was about typography. When I was 12, I painted my first piece and for the next ten years I did not stop doing it.
I left my music studies and I started my art studies at high school , thinking that from painting that much before I drew well too. (I think I've never been too skilled in that sense.) Two years later I moved to Barcelona and started my degree in Fine Arts. And this is where I really started to get interested in contemporary art.
- How did the idea of this project came to life?
I think the most interesting thing about @espontani, is his own birth, because it did not start with the logical path of having an idea and carrying it out. The relationships between name, images and description of the instagram account were an accident.
In 2016, my entire environment used Instagram as their main social network. The succession of mobile-stone of my last years did not allow me access to this platform, until I don't know how, I started using another type of mobile, more modern I suppose, which allowed me to download the app in exchange for selling my soul to the devil. The second name that came to mind when creating my account was "spontani". The first one was already taken. The description of the account, in the biography was borrowed from a definition of the word "spontani" from a dictionary. Nothing original!
Simultaneously, one Christmas morning I found three logs next to some containers near my house. I repositioned them forming a kind of crooked table, which I photographed with my mobile phone using the flash. The next morning I went through the same place and recognised the three same logs lying on the ground. That's when I remembered the photograph I took before, and put it as my profile picture on the recently created Instagram account.
From here, everything happened organically and nothing was planned. Some photographs of precarious structures in the same style as the "crooked table" coexisted in the instagram profile with other diverse photographs. When I became aware of the fact that these were already a majority, I decided to eliminate the rest and voluntarily continue with this exercise.
- How is your work methodology?
The images and structures of @espontani start being created during my walks through the city of Barcelona. With objects that are casually found, most of them near containers, and recomposed in this same meeting place. Fast processes, the vast majority of times solitary, experimental and developed without expectations. It has given me the sensation, sometimes, that part of the methodology resembles the one of a graffiti artist. Of course, less revolutionary and anti-system, and certainly more poetic, subtle, and ultimately harmless...
The second part of the project takes place in internet: the photography and the upload of it in the Instagram platform. This began to happen immediately after the construction process, making the piece exist in these two planes of reality at the same time for an indeterminate time. The journey of the pieces usually passes from the reality to the virtual world to exist momentarily in two different worlds, and disappear from the real at some point.
My methodology has been changing during the last years. I started to understand @espontani as a tool to experiment and explore another way of doing things, to approach the artistic practice. Maybe more free, intuitive and manual than in my other projects. Surely for this reason I try not to understand the methodology mentioned as something closed and undisputed. And leave room for new ways of working on the project that I have been experimenting lately, and with which I would like to continue. Collaborations with other artists and creatives, pieces built collectively, other formats of sharing them...
- Have you ever felt the need to check again if the sculpture was still there, and in which state it was?
A moment that I especially appreciate is when after taking the photograph, turning my back and starting to leave, I hear the noise that confirms the destruction of the structure. I try not to turn around and leave as quickly as possible "from the scene of the crime". Something similar to when someone in a movie runs away at the same moment a car explodes. Of a cop.
If it does not fall apart, I find it interesting to go back again. Try to find out what happened if it is no longer there, or re-photograph it if it is half-fallen. Sometimes this second image is better than the first.
- All your sculptures are in a state of fragility, of a certain imbalance. What do you think inspires you to make your sculptures?
Surely this aspect, together with the relationship between the structure in the real plane (street) and the virtual plane (Instagram), are those I referred to at the beginning when I talked about starting to make links between @espontani and my other works. I feel that something that is about to fall apart is more interesting than something that is not. The perfect point between balance and imbalance depends only on the direction of the butterfly's flight on the other side of the planet.
I have always thought about why the images of @espontani may be interesting, why they generate this kind of fixation. I think it is this point of fragility: the feeling that at any moment everything can go wrong, fail and fall. Seeing how buildings lose their balance is always beautiful, even if it implies destruction and horror.
Watching an Instagram photo for more than three seconds is unlikely. To watch more than three seconds a photo of @espontani is impossible, the structure falls apart. Or not. On internet you win if you show or tell the most spectacular event, the image of the precise moment where everything happens. Nothing happens at all, and here is the grace. Everything happens before and after the image, and in the real plane.
- How would you describe the rest of your work compared to the @espontani project?
I think that, leaving aside @espontani - and although in some points it has similarities -, my projects are very contextual with the place where they are developed. They work from almost field investigations that relate successions of coincidences, historical references, popular stories, myths, local rumours and jokes; to build new stories and play with them. It gives me the feeling that contrasts, like reality and fiction, faith and skepticism, success and failure are always at stake in my work. In that sense, I am beginning to see (or make up) the resonances towards @espontani.
I am interested in working in the context of reality: generating situations, actions and creating tools to be used; which are often of an ephemeral nature. This, and the long investigative processes, lead me to use video and photography as documentation tools, although lately I also try to use sculpture, installation and objects for this purpose.
- What are your plans for this year?
My idea is to finish my master studies I am doing in Barcelona and some projects that I am working on near me, to try to move to another place and continue looking for stimuli.
In relation to @espontani I would like to explore new possibilities for collaboration and open the methodology to take the collective experience more into account.